When you buy a new computer, you’ll want to transfer most of your existing files from your old computer. Whether you want to take away all your data or just the best parts, there are quick and easy ways to transfer files from one computer to another.
Depending on what you do, some methods are better than others. As a rule of thumb, using a strong physical connection, such as swapping hard drives or transferring over a LAN, is faster than a quick and simple solution, such as moving files over Wi-Fi or using a USB drive.
Next, let’s take a look:
1. Use external storage media
Most people do it by plugging a USB flash drive into a computer and copying data. Then plug the same drive into another computer, and then paste the data. Or if you have more data and the flash drive can’t hold it, you can use an external hard drive.
If both computers have USB 3.0 ports, consider purchasing a high-speed flash drive. When you have a lot of data to move, speed becomes crucial!
However, there is a faster way to do this. First, check whether the computer to which you want to move data has an eSATA port or an available SATA slot. If so, disconnect the hard drive from the original computer, and then connect it to the new computer. When it is done, it will appear as another drive on the target PC. You can then transfer data through SATA, which is much faster than USB.
2. Share via LAN or Wi-Fi
For computers that are close to each other, there are two main ways to share files and folders. The first is to set up a local area network (LAN) so that you can use one computer to browse another’s the hard disk. The second is to use software to transfer files over Wi-Fi.
All major operating systems have a built-in option to set up a home network. This allows devices on the same router (connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi) to permanently identify each other. So when you’re transferring files between computers, you don’t need to make a new connection every time, as long as both computers are on, it stays on.
Sharing With Software
If both computers are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can transfer files with some simple software. It’s a simple way to share without setting up a home network, making it ideal for ad hoc networks. There are several apps that can share large files instantly. Here, we recommend Send Anywhere.
Send Anywhere has an app for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It even has a web app and Chrome extensions for Chrome OS. Send Anywhere just works, it requires very few settings, which is amazing.
You can also transfer files from one PC to phones and tablets. The best thing about it is that it’s almost completely free. It is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Amazon Kindle.
Download: Send Anywhere (Free, in-app purchases available)
3. Use a Transfer Cable
For computer-to-computer transfer, you need a USB bridging cable or a USB networking cable. It’s faster than using drives since the copy-and-paste process happens simultaneously between the connected systems. When using external drives, you are basically transferring between three drives—but cables reduce that to two drives.
Windows to Windows: If you’re transferring files from one Windows computer to another, plug the USB cable into both computers. Wait until both computers recognize the cable and they automatically install drivers.
Once you’ve installed the USB cable’s driver, download and install the data transfer software for both computers. Once ready, launch the transfer app on both computers, and you can now begin transferring files.
Mac to Mac: You can connect two Mac computers via the proprietary Thunderbolt cable. Once you do that, both computers should detect each other, and transferring files is as simple as dragging and dropping them between systems.
Windows/Mac/Linux to Windows/Mac/Linux: Use an Ethernet cable to build a local area network without a router. Make sure it’s a crossover Ethernet cable (i.e., the color patterns on one end don’t match the other). Set up network sharing on both computers, and you’re good to go for PC-to-PC file transfer.
4. Connect the HDD or SSD Manually
If you’re moving from an old PC to a new ONE, your old PC may already be unusable. Or you might want to install a new hard drive to replace the old one. But, how do you get your old data?
Hard disk drives (HDDs) and some solid-state drives (SSDs) are connected to the motherboard using standard SATA cables. If you have an alternate SATA or eSATA (external SATA) port, connect your old hard drive there. The operating system will recognize it as a new drive. Then start the transfer. This is the fastest of all solutions.
Unlike PCs, it is difficult to find an alternate SATA port on a laptop. Instead, you can use other solutions, such as an external cabinet or USB docking station, to get the data on your hard drive. Either way, it’s just as simple as learning how to transfer files from laptop to laptop.
You may also want to turn your old hard drive into external storage. Investing in an external chassis for your old hard drive allows you to copy all the data from it, and then you can use the old drive as portable external storage.
5. Use cloud storage or network transfer
The last option is to use the internet, which is the best way to transfer files from PC to PC in terms of convenience. Since more and more users now use cloud storage to save their files, this is probably the easiest way to sync files between computers.
However, this can take some time, ranging from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the quality of your network connection.
You can choose from several cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. Each way does the job well.
Cloud drivers are a great option because the size of the files is almost unlimited, as long as you have enough storage space. Also, if both computers sync folders locally, when one person uploads a file, the other person downloads it at the same time.
If speed is what you want, try FilePizza. What makes it unique is that it is a peer-to-peer app. So, when one computer uploads a file, the other downloads it immediately. There is no waiting between the two. And you don’t need to subscribe to the same cloud drive. It’s all in the browser.
Choose your favorite way to transfer files
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I transfer files from one computer to another?” “Any of these methods allows you to quickly transfer files from PC to PC. Remember, when moving large amounts of data, you’d better have a wired connection between your computers. But if it’s just a few gigabytes of data, feel free to use one of the wireless options instead.